Choose the right word
alleviate, abate, allay, assuage, mitigate, relieve, temper
To alleviate is to make something easier to endure ( to alleviate the pain following surgery ); allay is often used interchangeably, but it also means to put to rest, to quiet or calm ( to allay their suspicions ). Assuage and allay both suggest the calming or satisfying of a desire or appetite, but assuage implies a more complete or permanent satisfaction ( we allay our hunger by nibbling hors d'oeuvres, but a huge dinner assuages our appetite ). To relieve implies reducing the misery or discomfort to the point where something is bearable ( headphones help relieve the monotony of the cross-country bus trip ), and mitigate, which comes from a Latin word meaning to soften, usually means to lessen in force or intensity ( mitigate the storm's impact ). Abate suggests a progressive lessening in degree or intensity ( her fever was abating ). To temper is to soften or moderate ( to temper justice with mercy ), but it can also mean the exact opposite: to harden or toughen something ( tempering steel ; a body tempered by lifting weights ).